After a wonky week with the All-Star break, Thursday’s Red Sox – Yankees game getting cancelled, an irrational number of seven-inning doubleheaders and the Padres putting up 24 runs as chalk on Friday, it will be nice to (hopefully) get back to normal starting today. Then again, nothing is “normal” in fantasy baseball this season, especially when it comes to pinning down pitchers since the ban on sticky substances. But with some depreciated DraftKings prices on top arms tonight, this 11-game slate has plenty of intriguing paths to tournament success. Let’s use the Awesemo expert MLB DFS projections to find a few of them and isolate a few MLB DFS picks and strategies for DraftKings and FanDuel.
MLB DFS Slate Starter: Fantasy Baseball Picks | July 19
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Into the Unknown
In regard to tonight’s top tournament pitching options on DraftKings, it could very well be Shohei Ohtani at $8,700 and then everyone else. It is not exactly the easiest matchup in the world against an Athletics team with plenty of pop against righties, evidenced by their .175 ISO in that split. That is more than enough to take advantage of the 42.6% hard-hit rate Ohtani is surrendering this season should he not have a feel for his splitter. Still, his 30.7% strikeout rate and .323 xSLG bolster the case for making him a priority (see: risky) play on this MLB DFS slate no matter what.
But if paying up for any pitcher above Ohtani, there are some serious risks to undertake:
Kevin Gausman was scratched from his start last week to be with his wife as she endured some pregnancy complications. While it sounds as though everything is OK on that front, it is impossible to know what effect that might have on his performance tonight. Plus, the matchup is awful against a Dodgers offense that is almost back to full strength, with only Corey Seager the remaining core piece not yet to return.
One note: If Gavin Lux is held out tonight after a mild hamstring strain on Sunday, Zach McKinstry and his team-high 27.9% strikeout rate could end up at second base. That would certainly help the profile of Gausman, but it is a tough spot to return from the break, nonetheless. However, his underlying numbers are outstanding: 30.5% strikeout rate, 6.9% walk rate, .198 xBA and .259 xwOBA. Hopefully Awesemo’s Top Pitchers tool displays a bit of positive leverage for him tonight, as any sort of trepidation others might have towards rostering Gausman in this spot would make him an elite tournament option.
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Yu Darvish might be the overwhelming wild card to tonight’s slate. He was cruising along this season until his last outing on July 8, a negative-6.1-DraftKings-point shelling at the hands of the Nationals at home. Left hip inflammation landed him on the 10-day injured list right after, from which he will make his return tonight against an Atlanta lineup lacking Ronald Acuna. Still, the Braves sport an eye-popping .188 ISO against right-handed pitching — third best in the majors — and traded for lefty Joc Pederson and his .195 ISO to serve as their new leadoff hitter. There is no question Darvish can mow down any team with his 29.8% strikeout rate and limit power to anyone with his elite 33.8% hard-hit rate. But this is another dicey spot, especially if there are any lingering issues with his hip.
Skipping Zack Greinke and his career-low 18.5% strikeout rate (let others play him), the last pitcher to cover out of this grouping is Kyle Gibson. Gibson has the best matchup of the group, facing a Tigers team with a 26.7% strikeout rate and a paltry .151 ISO versus that handedness. Gibson’s 2.29 ERA and 1.07 WHIP are much more impressive than his 21.7% strikeout rate, but the matchup should help him find a few more swing and misses than normal. However, the major knock here is Gibson got hit up by this same subpar Tigers lineup his last time out on July 7, giving up eight hits and five earned runs in 6.1 innings. But if willing to put that start aside, he feels like the most secure player to invest in on this entire slate.
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Final Thoughts for MLB DFS Lineups
- “Hot streaks” are a hot topic in the MLB DFS community, but considering Mookie Betts is now 12-for-16 with three homers and four doubles in his past four games, he might be in the middle of one. So even against Gausman, sprinkling in some shares is not the worst idea.
- The Awesemo Top Stacks tool should help make picking between the 22 teams on this slate less of a roulette wheel. It is the best tool in the industry for tournament purposes and will provide the guidance to play the ownership game with ease.
- Could Kyle Muller be really good? He has racked up 16 strikeouts in his past two outings, which next to his absurd .166 xBA through four total big league starts could make him more than fantasy baseball viable. It is a brutal matchup against the Padres, but at $7,600 the risk is somewhat mitigated by the price tag.
- Just play Rafael Devers.
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